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SPLINTERING URBANISMS : The Socio-Spatial dichotomies of Mumbai and Sao Paulo

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This paper is a comparative study between spatial dichotomies of two bustling megacities that were both shaped in the mid 90’s as a result of the wave of urbanisation across the world. Despite of being two different geomorphologies, the two cities
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    STUDIO SÃO PAULO REQUALIFYING INFRASTRUCTURE, REDEFINING URBANISM SPLINTERING URBANISMS THE SOCIO-SPATIAL DICHOTOMIES OF MUMBAI AND SÃO PAULO PARUL JAIN MASTERS OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS 2015 16 FACULTY OF ENGINEERING SCIENCES DEPARTMENT OF ARCHITECTURE PROMOTOR: BRUNO DE MUELDER CO PROMO TOR: VIVIANA D’AURIA  STUDIO TUTORS ELIANA BARBOSA ROSA DE QUIEROZ PATRICIA CAPANEMA ALVARES FERNANDES  1 A BSTRACT This paper is a comparative study between spatial dichotomies of two bustling megacities that were both shaped in the mid 90’s as a result of the wave of urbanisation across the world. Despite of being two different geomorphologies, the two cities have somehow transformed drastically and exhibit similar patterns of development, increasing urban migration and a similar socio-spatial division, which is distinctly visible in the image of the two cities. Through a review of various literatures, this paper aims to analyse how these two important financial capitals of Latin America and Asia, today have become contested territories of irreconcilable dichotomies .São Paulo and Mumbai are examples of multiple worlds living in the city. These bustling megacities of the urban age represent the coexistence of both the Global North and the global south within the same boundaries. Is this form of splintering urbanism in megacities like São Paulo and Mumbai becoming a ‘generic’ pattern in the developed/developing context of urbanisation? Is the growing number of gated communities and exclusion of informality is creating a ridge in the materiality of the two cities? Can we by delayering the patterns of both these kinds of settlements, link them together to a stronger network of the globalised economy? How can we prevent this multiplication of homogenous, exclusive form of architecture in this rapidly urbanizing world? Can redefining infrastructure, together with landscape urbanism help weave these fragmented islands into a more heterogeneous habitats? What can the emerging economies learn from these two cities, and what lessons do they have to offer each other? São Paulo today is an amalgamation of 39 municipalities in the state, and Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) 1 , is an archipelago of seven islands. During their initial years as colonies, neither of the cities were used as capitals. They were discovered as gateways of trade, while the capitals of the colonial powers rested in first cities like Rio and Brasilia in the case of São Paulo and Surat and Calcutta in the case of Mumbai. It was not until the late twentieth century, that they gained importance and became important financial capitals in the emerging world. Both the cities are now the most populated, yet the highest GDP producing cities in their respective countries. The abstract image of both the cities is that of swanky gated communities and the informal settlements (known as “  favelas ”    2 in Brazil and “ slums  or bastis   “ 3  in India) scattered together across the islands of the city, connected and divided at the same time through an infrastructure that is swallowing the public realm. This socio-spatial divide today, has brought a homogenous cityscape that is being multiplied across the face of the expanding city. It is estimated that b 2050, 75% of the world population will be living in cities. This calls for an immediate urgency for new urban strategies in order to restructure this growing divide, and the creation of an inclusive and interwoven urban society. 1  Bombay was renamed to Mumbai as a result of protest from Shiv sena, a Hindu political party that wanted to change the colonial name into a more regional, Marathi name. 2  Favela: the Portuguese word for Brazilian shanty towns or informal settlements, often found in precarious conditions. 3  Slums (Basti in Hindi): a squalid and overcrowded urban street or district inhabited by very poor people.  2 Figure 1: South Mumbai, India, image source: web   Figure 2: Paraisopolis, São Paulo, Brazil. Image source: web    3 Mumbai,   or Bombay  , where it began from, is a city shaped by numerous transformations, constant reuse, reinterpretations and reclamations of its land made over centuries by the fishermen tribes of Maharashtra, the Arabs, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Muslims, Portuguese and the British alike. The natural urban landscape of the city has been constantly altered and reformed for various uses. The formation of the city began as an archipelago of seven islands which was mostly occupied by farmers and fisherman, until the Portuguese colonised and ruled the islands for about a century. Bombay at this point was known as “Bom - Bahia” or good -bay in Portuguese. In the 17 th  century when Catherine of Braganza married King Charles II, Bom-Bahia was gifted to England as a dowry. It was then that the British East India Company leased the seven islands from King Charles and used it as their trading post. In 1864, the first railway line of Bombay was established. This was the changing point of Mumbai’s urban development. Mumbai became an industrial city with a north south axis of connection and an east west divide. These railway lines were further extended to connect to various other parts of India, especially Calcutta in the east and Surat in the west. With this strong railway connection, reclamation of land started happening, and setting up of industries along the axis led to easy connection between the interiors of the country and the harbour. The 20 th  century in Bombay saw a tumultuous turn of events that killed hundreds of people and several thousand homeless. Here’s a look a t the number of events that caused a huge impact on Mumbai, bringing in numerous challenges and opportunities to the blooming city.    1915: Return of Gandhi to India from South Africa at Bombay    1926: First motorised bus started running in South Bombay    1928: the first electric train started between the Borivali and Churchgate, the second parallel railway line in Bombay.    1940: reclamation of land that led to Formation of Nariman Point began.    1942: Indian Freedom Struggle or the “ Quit India Movement” began.    1944: Bombay harbour Explosion killed hundreds of people and left several thousands homeless    1947: India gained Independence.    1960: Bombay became the capital of the newly formed state of Maharashtra    1964: Last tram made its journey from Bori Bundar to Dadar.    1982: The Great Bombay Textile strike started which ultimately led to the closing of textile industry in Bombay.    1993: With the destruction of the Babri Masjid 4 , communal riots happened between Hindus and Muslims in Bombay killing almost 2000 people.    1993 —  Serious bomb blasts organised by the infamous Underworld Don, Dawood Ibrahim killed hundreds of people.      1995 —  Bombay was renamed to Mumbai due to Shiv Sena 5  protests. 4  Babri Masjid: Babri Masjid was the largest mosque in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, which was a disputed territory as the Hindus claimed it to be the birthplace of Lord Rama. After several milder protests the mosque was finally torn down by Hindu activists leading to riots and deaths across the nation, severely affecting Mumbai. 5  Shiv Sena, is an Indian far-right regional political party. Its ideology is based on pro-Marathi ideology and Hindu nationalism, founded on 19 June 1966 by political cartoonist Bal Thackeray  4 Figure 3: Historical Evolution of Mumbai. Image source: image source: reclaiming the urbanisms of Mumbai While, trade, commerce and education flourished simultaneously, the huge industry of Bollywood 6  was also set up in Bombay. With India gaining freedom in 1947, and a whole new age dawned upon the country. As we see from the timeline, Mumbai, as it was renamed by the end of the nineteenth century was  jostling between many more things in the lap of its new found freedom. There were political, economic and social upsurges happening in the city that created a chaos, and this reflects today in the chaos that one sees as a part of the daily life of Mumbaikars. The cities financial growth, and the numerous opportunities that it offered attract millions of migrants from all over the world. Today, there are 44 7  new migrants entering Mumbai every hour, an alarming rate that is swelling up the megacity. The density of Mumbai is soaring, as Suketu Mehta describes it befittingly “ it is an assault on ones senses” . Despite of so many issues, what is it that brings people towards Mumbai? Gregory Robert wrote that “more dreams are realised and exhausted in Mumbai, than any other place in India.” It has become the city of dreams, where everyone comes with nothing much than hope, that someday they will make it big. The poor leave their comfortable slow lives and come to Mumbai with the hope that they will be able to become a part of the bigger urban network of Mumbai, and the constantly changing lives around give them hope. 6  Bollywood : the term refers to the Indian Hindi film industry which has a net worth of2.8 billion US $ 7  Source : Living in the Endless city, [2011] Figure 4: Density graph for Mumbai. Image source: Living in the endless city
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